50-State Construction Licensing Compliance Guide
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Guide Contents

Tree Contractor Company License

Tree contractor companies are required to obtain proper licensure to operate. Learn how to start a tree service business and what is involved in the licensing process.

How to Start a Tree Service Business

There is a huge opportunity for arborists looking to start their own tree contractor company. When you own your own business, you can set your company standards, build the right team for your needs, and achieve your goals on your own terms. Being a skilled arborist is a start, but that alone is not enough to start a tree service business. You need to understand business management, customer service, financial management, and tree contractor license requirements.

If you are concerned about managing the business registration process on your own, you can seek guidance from the business licensing experts at Harbor Compliance. With our professional licensing services, you will understand all of the stages of corporate compliance and have access to full-service support and expert software insights. We make preparing and filing applications easy, and we handle communication with government agencies on your behalf. With our compliance software, you can track your registration status, license numbers, filing history, fees, and renewals 24/7.

Check Your Status For Free  Understand your current status and see recommended actions. Get Your Free  Harbor Compliance Score

Meet Tree Contractor License Requirements

Tree trimming and removal requires expert skills, especially safely operating power tools at heights—often in an aerial bucket around power lines. There are certain inherent risks to the job, including falling, sustaining impact injuries, broken bones, and even fatal injuries. Because of those risks, licensing and voluntary certification ensure tree contractors are adequately trained. There are essential licensing requirements for each state, which can vary depending on the state in which you plan to operate.

Tree Trimming Training and Certification

While formal education requirements for tree contractors are often minimal, training courses are through tree care organizations across the country. Most tree care training programs begin with an overview of the arboricultural profession, worker safety, common hazards, and injury prevention. Other basic classes cover topics like the use of equipment like pruners, chainsaws, and stump grinders. Tree trimmers looking to expand their industry knowledge can pursue additional training that covers single-rope techniques for tree climbing, supervising crews, and aerial lift operations. There are also courses that cover securing an apprenticeship and starting a business.

Even if the state your business operates in does not require a tree trimming certification, you may still consider the merits of obtaining professional credentials. For example, the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), a recognized leader in the tree care industry, offers voluntary certifications for tree worker climbers and more. For highly experienced and trained tree contractors, applications can be submitted for a Registered Consulting Arborist (RCA) through the American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA). A certified arborist is considered an expert in tree care and tree preservation. They may work with insurance companies to assess tree damage after a natural disaster or fire, and they can recommend the removal of damaged branches or treatment if there are signs of infestation.

Business Registration and Insurance

When it comes to registering your business with the state, you need to complete the following tasks:

  • Choose your business name
  • Choose your business’s legal structure
  • Submit your business registration application
  • Obtain necessary permits or licenses
  • Get an identification number from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  • Get a business bank account and an accountant to keep personal and business spending separate
  • Appoint a registered agent to receive notices of lawsuits and other legal or government notices

Once you have completed those tasks, it is time to obtain the necessary insurance coverage. The tree trimming industry is inherently dangerous, which means that accidents happen. To protect yourself and your business in the event an employee, homeowner, or bystander is injured, you should obtain the following types of insurance:

  • General Liability Coverage.General liability coverage protects your business against third-party claims for injuries or property damage caused by you or your employees while on the job or while driving to or from a job site.
  • Professional Liability Insurance. Also known as malpractice coverage, professional liability coverage covers damages that arise from claims that your business gave poor advice or you were negligent in another way.
  • Workers’ Compensation.If you plan to hire employees, you will need workers’ compensation coverage to protect your business from claims by employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses.
  • Commercial Auto Insurance.Commercial auto insurance is similar to a personal auto policy; however, it is specific to commercial vehicles and employee drivers.

Once you have completed the registration and insurance process, you can begin to focus on running your business.

Depending on the state in which you operate, you may need to renew applicable licenses or registration statuses annually. Complying with required renewals ensures your company can continue to operate without interruption.

Keeping on track with your business’s tree contractor license renewals can be complicated, especially as your company expands into new states. At Harbor Compliance, our Entity Manager software and professional managed services ensure accurate due date tracking and on-time filings. This way, your business will continue to be compliant with state and local requirements, and you will have the time you need to continue working and expanding your clientele.

Exploring Licensing by State

Click on a link below to view licensing information in your state.

Meeting the tree contractor company license requirements is not always an easy process. Fortunately, Harbor Compliance License Manager helps companies maintain their licenses by automating repetitive tasks such as tracking renewals. Through License Manager, you can also access Compliance Core™ - our extensive, proprietary database of nationwide licensing information - to research the requirements for the states in which you work. These tools reduce the time you spend researching state requirements and prepare your organization for success. Contact our licensing experts today to learn more.

Associated General Contractors of America
Professional association providing advocacy and organization for construction firms and workers.

National Association of Home Builders
National association for the promotion of the housing industry.

National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies
National organization that represents and promotes the interests of state level contractor licensing agencies.